Wheat yields reaching 6t/ac in some fields
While the harvest in the earlier, drier and lighter soil areas is all but complete, the heavier ground, especially in the midlands and north east still have a bit to go. The changeable weather of last week also delayed progress.
Some spring wheat, beans and spring rape remain to be harvested in all areas. There is a great variation in yields across all crops and regions. There are reports of up to 6t/ac of wheat, with many reports of 4.5 to 5t/ac, particularly after oil seed rape and oats. Some continuous wheat yielded 3.5t/ac but many failed to even reach 3t/ac. With growing costs of more than €500/ac and a value of €155/t, a minimum of 3.25t is required to break even.
I have been on a number of combines over the last two weeks and it is frightening to see the variation in yield across fields.
Yield indicators on some combines in both wheat and barley were showing a difference of 2-6t/ac. Much of this disparity comes down to differences in soil type and depth across fields. The lighter land suffered from a combination of a shorter growing season and a dryer summer. It will be difficult to equalise such variations.
However, careful mapping and knowledge of fields with tailored management will help to minimise this difference.
Yields for both winter and spring oats would appear to be disappointing this year with many winter crops struggling to do 3.5t and many spring oat crops failing to reach 3t. Quality is a problem with some varieties. Spring barley has also shown enormous variation across regions. The south of the country, particularly in Wexford and Cork, has performed well with yields of up to 4t/ac reported.
In the Athy area yields of 2.5t/ac are more common. Malting barley protein levels are very high, more than 13pc, particularly in the Athy and Bagenalstown areas with many farmers experiencing more than 50pc rejections. From my own observations, it appears that the very early sown crops (February and early March) gave the highest proteins.
This early sowing coupled with the prolonged cold spell meant that crops sown a month later emerged as quickly and suffered no distress or setback.